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First Film, Last Straw

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At 21 years old, less than two months new to town, living in my cousin’s back room in the deep valley, making love to a Thomas Guide every night, with zero frame of reference for my situation, I embark on a film career.

My first break, an independent film, hires me to be their production secretary. What’s that? I don’t know either. Here’s what I do know. The production office is at 6th and Alameda and it’s like working in abandoned city with an occasional sighting of a nomadic person and/or a fish market. After weeks of calling vendors and lining up everything from dolly track (which I have never seen or heard of) to craft service (which I have never seen or heard of), the operation packs up and moves to set. The fully assembled, and very stoned crew begins to shoot a film that will be ultimately repossessed by the bond company because the producers are stealing money.

Michael “Eddie and the Cruisers” Paré is the star of this picture show, and in addition to my other varying duties, I also get to be his morning driver. Upon meeting me, he insists I take him to buy underwear from Fred Segal. “Sure,” I say confidently. “Where does Fred live?” I am not trying to be funny.

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Every morning I drive the epic stretch from Northridge to San Pedro by way of Hollywood, and every evening I drive back with an added stop in Burbank to drop off the film, and a jaunt to Woodland Hills to drop off the sound. I do this in my rented, unreimbursed Taurus. I do this for three months. I sleep an average of four hours per night. I eat a lot of El Pollo Loco tortillas. I make $242.00 every two weeks. I work production for a few more years before I realize that I don’t hate my life enough to continue. I am happy.

Photo (of an entirely different film) by jozecuervo via Flickr